The UK sponsor licence program allows the qualified companies to bring in workers from overseas to fill in the vacant positions matching their skill levels. It has already been established those certain occupations in the country are facing a shortage of skills. The most affected are the health, engineering, and IT sector. Foreigners with qualifications in these areas can be paid 80 % of their job’s usual going rate to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa. But to sponsor individuals for a worker visa, a UK employer will need a sponsor licence and certificate of sponsorship for each sponsored individual.
What is a sponsor licence?
A sponsor licence is a permit issued by the UK government that allows employers to hire qualified foreign workers. The definition of a foreign worker here is anyone who is not a genuine resident or citizen of Britain or a European Union (EU) country. The Home Office issues the sponsor licence, and you must meet a few requirements to qualify.
When applying for a visa under the Skilled Worker, Scale-Up, or Worker Secondment visa schemes, the individual you are bringing over will need
a certificate of sponsorship containing your name and sponsor licence number. They must also satisfy the job specifications.
How to apply for a sponsor licence?
The Home Office is the government branch that issues these licences.
You will need to have an established business before applying for a sponsor licence. Your business will need an established presence regardless of its size. You must provide evidence to support this established presence; this will mean submitting a lease agreement, business licence, and even bank account registration.
To be eligible for the licence, your business must have experienced annualised growth of at least 20 percent or more in either sales or staff over the past 24 months and have not less than 10 workers. You will also have to convince the Home Office that the person you are sponsoring will fill a genuine vacancy matching their skills.
The application itself is done online on the UKVI Home Office web page. You will be required to complete a form, pay the application fee and choose the tiers you want to be licensed under based on the category of workers you wish to sponsor. You will need to prove that you meet the eligibility requirements and upload supporting documentation. Your application will need to be certified by a solicitor who could be your lawyer or accountant.
The home office requests different types of evidence from different organisations, so your evidence will depend on the type of business you run. That said, it’s always good to be prepared with proper documents to avoid trouble during the sponsor licenceapplication process. Above all, you can always get the help of an experienced sponsor licence specialist to help every step of the way.
How much does it cost to apply for a sponsor licence?
The sponsor licence application fee varies according to the size of your establishment. There are two types of establishments: large and small. Small companies have fewer than fifty employees and roughly £10.2 million annual revenue. Organisations with at least 50 employees, on the other hand, are considered large.
Smaller companies pay only £536, while the sponsor licence fees for medium to large establishments are £1476. Fees are subject to change each year, so don’t be surprised if you are asked to pay a different amount the following year.
How long does it take to get the sponsor licence?
The normal application process usually takes around 8 to 10 weeks. More sophisticated applications would require more time. You can, however, get sponsorship assistance or fast-track the whole process, which will cost you around 500 pounds. Expediting the application might be necessary when you have someone waiting for a certificate of sponsorship, and you don’t want to lose them to your competitors.
With a sponsor licence, who can you bring in?
A sponsor licence in the United Kingdom allows established businesses to bring in mainly 2 groups of skilled workers. The first type of applicant belongs to the Tier 2 General category. These applicants can apply for skilled workers or scaled-up visas. You will need to publicise these positions locally.
The second type is applicants doing an inter-company transfer. Inter-company transfers are possible if their overseas employer has a high-value contract with you (the UK business), and therefore, the applicant will continue to be employed by the offshore entity while working in the UK. The visa for this category is the Global Business Mobility Visa. It may be of interest to you to be aware that Tier 2 foreign worker visas may remain with the company and become British citizens
Immigration under Tier 2 sponsor licence terms allows the foreign worker to stay in the company and even apply for British citizenship.
The inter-company exchange category does not provide the same opportunity, but the worker can stay in the country for up to nine years. Companies that do not have a sponsor licence should not hire foreign workers. If you bring over a foreign worker who does not have the legal authorization to work in the UK, you’ll be committing a crime as a business.
What should a foreign worker have?
The individual you are sponsoring over does not need to worry a lot. All that’s required is the certificate of sponsorship and proof of qualifications for the job offered. Your name and sponsor licence will appear on the sponsorship certificate. It must also not have been revoked or used previously.
How long does a sponsor licence last?
The licence is valid for four years after it is obtained. Throughout this period, the UKVI will closely monitor if you still perform in your capacity as an employer.
UK businesses with sponsor licences can bring skilled foreign workers to fill positions that they’ve been able to source individuals for locally. The Home Office issues these licences to qualifying establishments, allowing the holders to sponsor workers in Tier 2 or Tier 5 categories. The licence is valid for 4 years, throughout which the UKVI will monitor the holder to check if they still function in their capacity as employers.